Posts tagged ‘orthodox orders’

Order of the Redeemer

Order of the Redeemer

The Order of the Redeemer or, in Greek, “Το Τάγμα του Σωτήρος” is the foremost order of merit in Greece. Interestingly, it not only is the first in order of precedence, it is also the first to be established after the revolution from Ottoman rule. Specifically, the Order was established in 1829 (the final year of the revolution) by Fourth National Assembly (Δ’ Εθνική Συνέλευση) in Argos. However, it was not awarded until 1833 when given to King Ludwig I of Bavaria, father of the new King of Greece, King Otto I.

Though decided upon in 1829 by a revolutionary assembly, it officially became an order of the country on May 20, 1833 by royal decree (ΦΕΚ 19, τ.Α΄από 20.1.1833).

It was so named as a constant reminder of the divine assistance to the liberation of the Greek people.

The Order of the Redeemer, even while Greece was a kingdom, never conferred nobility and always was an order of merit.

Star of the Order of the Redeemer

As with the rest of the Orders of the country, it is awarded in five classes: Grand Cross, Grand Commander, Commander, Gold Cross and Silver Cross.

The insignia of the Order has at its center an image of Jesus Christ the Redeemer encircled with the text “Η ΔΕΞΙΑ ΣΟΥ ΧΕΙΡ ΚΥΡΙΕ, ΔΕΔΟΞΑΣΤΑΙ ΕΝ ΙΣΧΥΙ” (“Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power”). On the reverse, the text reads “Η ΕΝ ΑΡΓΕΙ Δ΄ ΕΘΝΙΚΗ ΤΩΝ ΕΛΛΗΝΩΝ ΣΥΝΕΛΕΥΣΙΣ αωκθ΄” (“In Argos IV National Assembly of Greeks 1829”). The enameled center rests upon a white enameled cross over a wreath whose dexter half is of oak and the sinister of laurel. The stars of the Grand Cross and the Grand Commander have eight radiated points instead of the enameled cross.

Initially, the Order was awarded to those, Greeks and foreigners, who gave great service to the cause of Hellenic liberation. Today, it is awarded to Greek citizens who have provided an exemplary service to Greece or have distinguished themselves in some way. The Grand Cross of the Order is typically awarded to foreign heads of state.

The Presidency of the Hellenic Republic has a comprehensive website covering the history of this and the other orders of the country at

Note: images from the website of the Presidency of the Hellenic Republic

Order of the Orthodox Hospitallers

Order of the Orthodox Hospitallers

There are many quasi-orders and other self-styled Orders who use “Orthodox” in their name and claim to be under the protection of some Orthodox bishop or archbishop. Some claim to continue the Orthodox branch of some ancient Order. While others even go so far as to claim recognition by the Holy See in Rome! Perhaps the most notorious of all these Orders are those that claim some kind of descent from the famous Orders of the Crusades and in their names use such terms as “Templar” or “Hospitaller” or both.

The Order being presented today is none of the above. It is a very much bonafide Order but, its current status is questionable.

Before continuing, I would like to clarify that I tried contacting the government of the Republic of Cyprus through the country’s embassy in the United States, the Press Office of the government and the Office of the President of the Republic. Unfortunately, I never even received a form email saying that my message was received.

What is especially interesting about the Order of the Orthodox Hospitallers is that it has a purely Orthodox Order with an unquestionable fons honorum, something that has not always been the case with Orthodox Orders.

The Order was established in December of 1972 by His Beatitude Archbishop Makarios III of Cyprus. The Archbishop was the head of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Cyprus which is in full communion with the other Orthodox Churches of the world. However, Archbishop Makarios was also the President of the Republic of Cyprus and as such, combined in his person both the highest spiritual and temporal power of the sovereign nation. This combination is not found anywhere else, with the best comparison being His Holiness the Pope.

It must be noted that the Order was not created as an Order of Chivalry and it does not confer nobility, in any way, to any of its members. Simply put, the Orthodox Church does not have a tradition of nobiliary corporation and the granting nation is a presidential republic.

The governance of the Order was established with the Grand Master being the Archbishop of Cyprus and the Temporal Protector the President of the Republic. The headquarters were set to be in the monastery of St. Barnabas, Famagusta (Αμμόχωστος). It should be noted that after the 1974 invasion of Cyprus by Turkey, Famagusta (and thus the monastery) ended up on the Turkish occupied side of the now divided island. It is not clear what the status of the monastery and the headquarters of the Order is today. However, in Peter Bander van Duren’s “The Cross and the Sword” it is mentioned that the Turkish authorities have allowed the Order to retain the seat there. Personally, I find that to be highly implausible; especially knowing how the Turkish authorities have treated anything Greek or Orthodox in the north of the island.

The Order is a purely Orthodox one and has obtained the recognition of all the other heads of Orthodox Churches in communion with the Church of Cyprus. Furthermore, these Archbishops and Patriarchs are considered as the Spiritual Protectors of the Order within their territories. Membership in the Order is restricted strictly to those members of the Orthodox Church however, non-Orthodox may be recognized as Companions of the Order. Members and Companions have the Badge of Honor conferred upon them. The symbol of the Badge is simply a gold trimmed white enameld cross botonny. The higher levels have the text “FOR THE GLORY OF GOD AND THE GOOD OF MANKIND” encircling the cross.

Companionships exist in three classes: Companion, Companion First Class and Companion with Star. It should be made clear that a companionship does not equate membership in the Order.

When Archbishop and President Makarios instituted the Order, he decreed that certain non-Orthodox personages receive the Companionship with Star automatically, these are: the Apostolic Pro-Nuncios to Cyprus and the UK, the Aglican Bishop of Cyprus and the Vicar General of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem in Cyprus. He also believed strongly that the Order can be used to strengthen inter-faith and interdenominational relationships and suggested that perhaps the religious leaders of territories hosting large Orthodox communities should be honored.

Unfortunately, it is unclear what has happened to the Order since His Beatitude died in 1977 and a number of organizations have popped up claiming to be the continuation of it. However, none of them are headed by the Archbishop of Cyprus nor by the President of Cyprus and don’t include an explanation as to how this radical change occured. Peter Bander van Duren includes a picture of President Spyros Kyprianou, who succeeded His Beatitude, wearing the insignia of the Order and thus, one can infer that it was still in existence for at least a few years after Archbishop and President Makarios’ death.

As mentioned earlier, none of my attempts to get official information about the current status of the Order met with success. Hopefully, I will uncover some information in the near future.

Order of Saint Andrew – Archons

Archon crossThe Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle is one of the premier Orthodox Orders in the world and it is under the protection of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Members of this Order are not called Knights or Chevaliers (which is French for knight). Each member is called Archon (Άρχων; pl. Άρχοντες) which is Greek for “Ruler”. However, it must be noted that this Order is one of merit and not of chivalry.

The Order was created on March 10, 1966 when His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos, as a representative of the then Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople. On this day, the first 30 members of the Order were honored with the title of Archon with the full support of Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople.

The Archons are not mere members of an organization whose only commitment is to pay an annual oblation and attend an event. Each Archon holds an Offikion (Οφφίκιον) or Office of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and acts in that capacity.

Though the 1966 act was not unique in the investiture of official Patriarchal offices upon laymen, it was unique in that it was done in such an organized matter. Historically, the Patriarch has bestowed an Offikion upon members of the Church as far back as the Byzantine era and continued until present. However, before the Order came into being, it was extremely limited to those very extraordinary laymen who also were able to visit the Patriarchate and were personally honored by the Patriarch.

Each of the Archons take an oath to defend and promote the Greek Orthodox faith and tradition with their work and treasure.

Below is a list of Offikions:

  • Grand Deputy (Μέγας Λογοθέτης)
  • Grand Orator (Μέγας Ρήτωρ)
  • Grand Archivist (Μέγας Χαρτοφύλαξ)
  • Grand Counselor (Μέγας Πρωτέκδικος)
  • Grand Liaison Officer (Μέγας Ρεφενδάριος)
  • Grand Notary (Μέγας Πρωτονοτάριος)
  • Grand Recorder (Μέγας Υπμνηματογράφος)
  • Grand Jurist (Μέγας Δικαιοφύλαξ)
  • Grand Lawkeeper (Μέγας Νομοπύλαξ)
  • Grand Overseer (Μέγας Ιερόμνημων)
  • Grand Sacristan (Μέγας Σκευοφύλαξ)
  • Recorder of the Court (Ακτουάριος)
  • Summoner (Δεπουτάτος)
  • Teacher of the Gospel (Διδάσκαλος του Ευαγγελίου)
  • Teacher of the Apostle (Διδάσκαλος του Αποστόλου)
  • Teacher of the People (Διδάσκαλος του Γένους)
  • Interpreter (Διερμηνεύς)
  • Counselor (Έκδικος)
  • Exarch (Έξαρχος)
  • Secretary (Χαρτοφύλαξ)
  • Archivist (Χαρτουλάριος)
  • Chaplain (Καστρίνσιος)
  • Overseer of the Holy Chrism (Μύρεψος)
  • Lawkeeper (Νομοφύλαξ)
  • Notary (Νοτάριος)
  • Commissioner for the Orphans (Ορφανοτρόφος)
  • Ostiary (Οστιάριος)
  • Lay Ecclesiarch (Πρίμικρος)

Important positions all of them that have maintained their significance for over a millennium. I am not going into details on each Offikion above as the Order’s official website is very comprehensive.

Along with their duties, the Archons are also very active in their pursuit to protect the Patriarchate of Constantinople and its rights in Turkey from an ever increasing zeal to take away more from it. Their attempts in promoting religious freedom, relaxing the overbearing controls on the Church and the return of the stolen properties have met mixed success.

It should be noted that a similar organization covering the members outside of the United States was created in 1991 called the Brotherhood of the Most Holy Lady Pammakaristos”.

The Order of Saint Andrew maintains a very informative and comprehensive website at

Orthodox Orders

There are many orders of chivalry, knighthood or merit in the world. Some of them are completely secular, such as the Légion d’honneur of France while others are completely religious and tied to a specific church such as the Papal Order of Christ.


Officier Légion d'honneur Order of Christ


The insignia above are those of a knight of the Légion d’honneur (on the left) and the star and badge of the Order of Christ.

The majority of orders are somewhere in between though one can argue that almost all of them have a religious aspect to them. Some, of course, more than others.

One thing that differentiates the Orthodox Orders from all the others is, as the name implies, their foundation on Eastern Orthodox Christianity and under the spiritual protection of one of the Orthodox Patriarchates or Autocephalous Churches. There is a debate in the West on whether the heads of any of these Churches or even the Ecumenical Patriarch have the fons honorum to establish an Order of Chivalry however in the East they always enjoyed a sovereign status and continue to do so to this day. Regardless though, the notion of a religious Order of Chivalry is a foreign concept to the Eastern Churches; however, in the past century or so they have started giving out awards that even though they may resemble a knightly Order, they are clearly Orders of Merit. One of these meritorious Orders is the Order of St. Andrew or Archons under the auspice of the His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constaninople.


Archon crossArchon cross

Naturally, the Orthodox lands have had royal sovereigns to rule them and in their capacity as sovereigns, with a font honorum that cannot be disputed, had or have instituted Orders of Chivalry under their Grand Mastership and the spiritual protection of their Archbishop or Patriarch. Perhaps the most widely known Orthodox sovereigns were the Czars of the Russian Empire who where under the spiritual guidance of His Holiness the Patriarch of All Russia. Though, it must be noted that there were many other Orthodox sovereigns that were either completely independent or autonomous and under a greater and more powerful king/emperor.

Since there is so much written about all the non-Orthodox Orders while very little, if anything, about the Orthodox ones, we’ll be examining them one at a time as my research completes for each. I hope you enjoy this journey and if you can contribute or correct anything, please comment or contact me!